Modern and traditional find common ground in a quiet setting
Neutral, quiet, and peaceful were the look and mood Deirdre Duggan Cohen aspired to when designing the kitchen in her family’s new home in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey. Maybe that’s because her everyday life is pretty much the opposite.
The Cohen household is a whirl of activity with twin 12-year-olds, Fiona and Hyatt (both play in a rock band that practices at home, plus they do sports, dance, and other activities), a husband who commutes to Manhattan for his building business, Deirdre’s own career as an architectural designer, one large and still-growing Doberman pinscher, Ciara, and, the most recent arrival, a second Doberman puppy, Seamus. (Yes, there’s an Irish heritage here.)
Their kitchen had to be organized and efficient—and Deirdre and her husband, Howard, were just the pair to make that happen. Howard’s company builds luxury custom homes and Deirdre works with him, overseeing the architectural and finishing details. When the couple were ready to build their own home (“It was a case of the shoemaker needing new shoes,” she jokes), Deirdre jumped into her familiar role of choosing windows and doors, floor treatments, tile and stone surfaces, hardware, plumbing fixtures, paint colors, and fabrics and furnishings.
But when it came to finalizing the kitchen, Deirdre needed a sounding board. She found just the partner in Mel Elion, a designer at Bilotta Kitchens in Mamaroneck, New York.
“I’ve done so many kitchens for other people, but when it came down to doing my own, I was a little bit gun-shy,” Deirdre admits. “I needed someone to bounce ideas off of, and Mel was great. I had all the ingredients, but Mel helped me mix the pot.” Elion agrees with that assessment and relished working with such an in-the-know client.
Deirdre established the quiet and somewhat modern mood, building on a gray-and-cream palette with polished nickel accents. She then balanced those visually cool tones with textures. “I wanted to create a peaceful and cool feel and then warm that with furnishings,” she explains. “The cherry table and chairs in the kitchen, for example, are warm furnishings in a cool setting.” The 8x3-foot walnut island with two chunky squared-off legs plays a similar role and acts as an anchor for the spacious room.
Cabinets are painted a stormy gray and walls a shade lighter, reminiscent of a morning fog. Glass-front cabinets have simple horizontal grills rather than multiple mullions, blurring the line between modern and traditional. “Timeless architecture is important to me,” Deirdre says.
Elion and Deirdre bumped up the height of toekicks to six inches on the cabinet bases for practical and aesthetic reasons. The higher toekicks lessen damage to cabinet doors, plus the added height is in keeping with the room’s proportions. Statuary marble countertops add drama with heavy gray veining. (Some veins spread to four inches wide before tapering down to a trickle.) The veining adds subtle pattern and complements stainless steel appliances.
The kitchen floor plan (one that Deirdre had come to love in her previous home) puts the island in the middle of the spacious room, creating a galley-style work zone on one side and a dining area on the other. The family eats most dinners around the pedestal table set in a window-lined corner with views of the backyard. Chair seats are upholstered in red easy-to-clean ultrasuede for a splash of cozy color that ties in with the nearby family room palette.
The gray travertine floor complements the checkerboard gray-and-cream marble floor in the center hall, which runs along one side of the kitchen. “I was going to have a chocolate-mahogany travertine like I had in my previous house, but Mel suggested the gray because it would be so much easier to keep clean,” Deirdre says. “And the gray is somewhat contemporary and a little fresher, which I like.”
Deirdre centered a farmhouse-style sink on a wall of windows that overlook the backyard. “I can look outside and watch the butterflies and birds,” she says. “I think the kitchen window should always have the best view in the house because that’s where so many of us spend the most time.”
Photography: Steven Randazzo
Architect: Perry Patrillo, Perry M. Patrillo Architect, 5 Park Ave., Park Ridge, NJ 07656; 201/307-6153.
Kitchen designer: Mel Elion, Bilotta Kitchens, 564 Mamaroneck Ave., Mamaroneck, NY 10543; 914/381-7734, bilotta.com .
Interior designer: Deirdre Duggan, AMA Builders, LLC, 250 W. 39th St., 9th Floor, New York, NY 10018; 212/944-7722, amabuilders.com .
Builder: AMA Builders, LLC, 250 W. 39th St., 9th Floor, New York, NY 10018; 212/944-7722, amabuilders.com .
Peachy Keen Kitchen
- Roman shades made with fabric from Kravet blend with the wall paint color.
- The farmhouse sink has a slim 6-inch-tall apron front, which is the same height as the cabinet toekick.
- Leather-covered stools (seats and legs) are from Crate & Barrel.
- Travertine floors are warmed by radiant heating (enjoyed by Ciara, the Doberman).
- Paneled cabinets by Rutt are finished with Benjamin Moore’s “Ozark Shadows” gray paint.
Sugar and Spice
Walnut-lined drawers with dividers keep spices in order.
- Cool glass-front Sub-Zero refrigerator offers quick views of what’s on hand.
- Polished-nickel cabinet hardware by Atlas adds shine.
- Wood-paneled hood treatment creates a dramatic focal point while housing the Best by Broan vent system.
- Marble shelves are discreetly tucked in niches on either side of the range.
See Spout Run
A modern C-shaped spout was combined with vintage-looking cross handles on the Rohl satin-nickel faucet.
- Glass-front cabinet doors are accented with simple horizontal muntin bars.
- Marble tile backsplash in a classic herringbone pattern adds texture and a hint of shimmer.
- Built-in coffee system from Miele serves up coffee, tea, and hot chocolate in minutes.
- A beverage refrigerator from Perlick was chosen because it has a stainless-steel interior.
Cherry table and chairs from Stickley warm the room’s cool palette. The polished nickel chandelier is from Hudson Valley.